What Happened to Paula by Katherine Dykstra

Katherine Dykstra’s What Happened to Paula: On the Death of an American Girl (Norton 2021) is a thoroughly researched and deeply personal account of a woman’s investigation into the death of a midwestern American teenager. It also discusses the through lines that Paula’s victimization has with women’s lives across time, including the author’s own. Late …

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The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream by Dean Jobb

The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream: The Hunt for a Victorian Era Serial Killer (Harper Collins, 2021) by Dean Jobb is an excellent and comprehensive historical true crime narrative that integrates the crimes of one man into a social, political, and cultural context. Historically rich and shockingly poignant, Jobb’s text is not one to …

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The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

My favorite nonfiction texts are those that place narratives about individuals in larger sociological contexts, because they draw the reader in on a human level and allow them to connect with larger-than-life stories. Not only does no other work of true crime do that better than The Devil in The White City: Murder, Magic, and …

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Autopsy of a Crime Lab by Brandon L. Garrett

Brandon L. Garrett’s monograph Autopsy of a Crime Lab: Exposing the Flaws in Forensics (University of California Press, 2021) is a brutally honest look at the inadequacies of forensic science, its practitioners, and a legal system that legitimizes aspects of the field that seemingly have no genuine scientific basis. In this carefully and expertly researched book, Garrett, …

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